Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Butterflies and Vanity

At the beginning of the summer when I started swimming, I was horribly distressed by my goggle imprints.  So, for vanity's sake, I decided to go out and buy my first pair of sunglasses.  I think I may have bought a pair or two before, at a convenient store, trying to model after friends in high school or college, but they looked so horrible on my face that I never wore them.  So I decided I needed to do research.

I went to one of those how to sites that I had read about in the New York Times that day, a site where the serious developer was not too happy that the most common things people looked up on his site were "How to have sex in a car" and "How to get rid of man-boobs."  That was the funniest part of the story.  I looked up how to buy sunglasses, and learned there was indeed a trick.  My long oval face would not look good with the cute, small, catty frames I had tried in the past - I needed to go for size and volume.  My favorite laser chick, Ruby, assured me that large glasses would protect the skin around my eyes and keep me from squinting - both preventing wrinkles.  More vanity reasons to buy sunglasses.

So one Sunday afternoon I went to the Sunglass Hut at the mall and tried on a bunch of glasses.  Of course I liked some of the most expensive ones the best, but I decided hell, I was making up for all of those sunglasses I never bought in the past.  And I am pretty good at keeping up with things. 

I became addicted to my sunglasses.  They were amazing!  No squinting, hiding goggle eyes, being sneaky about where you were looking, and a fabulous headband all in one product!  I wondered how in the world I had managed 36 years without them.  Then, Sunday night, I developed an itchy, flaky rash on either side of my nose.  I decided it must be overuse of the sunglasses, and wore them around on my head all day Monday when I was off work.  But rather than relieve the process, this morning it had progressed; the rash was now spreading across my face, under my eyes, and the itchiness was getting red.  I decided it must be contact eczema, and I couldn't even cover it up with the sunglasses because they were the culprit!  I look like I have that butterfly rash from lupus - the one that we study and see pictures of and memorize for our boards, yet I have never encountered it in a lupus patient.  I worried all day at work that one of my partners would pull me aside and quietly recommend a rheumatologist.  

I searched frantically in my cabinet this morning for the tube of steroid cream I have been dragging around since I was diagnosed with nummular eczema in medical school.  I couldn't find it because I haven't had a problem with eczema since before I was pregnant with Sicily, so I suffered all day.  I was diagnosed with nummular eczema, a coin-shaped rash that was on my shins, in December of my first year of medical school.  Ike diagnosed me with ringworm (in his defense, it is often misdiagnosed as ringworm), and I stubbornly treated it with anti-fungals for nine months before deciding, when there was honey-colored pus oozing out of my tights at the med school Christmas formal Cadaver Ball, so I had to keep running to the bathroom and wiping with tissues so no one would see, that maybe I needed a second opinion.  The dermatologist in whose house I now reside took one look, said I had nummular eczema with a secondary staph bacterial infection (the honey-colored pus - I would learn about that later), and prescribed me some steroids that cleared it up in a week.  Whew.  What a frustrating nine months.  A good reminder of what ignorance can do to a person, so when someone tells me that they had a car wreck a year ago and that was about the time this giant tumor started growing on their chin, and they ignored it until now, because they figured they were somehow related and it would just clear up eventually, I really shouldn't laugh or scoff.  They are probably really smart about something I have not a clue about.  We all can't know everything.  Sometimes I entertain myself by getting the patients to chat about what they know, and I learn something.

Today I had my sunglasses perched on my nose to avoid the sore area while Sicily was having her first stroke camp class.  John was gleefully trying on ten pairs of goggles behind me.  I listened to Sicily beg the teacher over and over to teach her the butterfly.  Sicily knows that her grandpa held state records in the butterfly, and she really likes butterflies, so she is particularly interested in learning that stroke.  I thought of my butterfly rash and kept wrinkling my nose to itch it.  Even though I realize this is not true, I decided that's what I get for being vain in the first place.  Time to go find that steroid cream.


christie said...

Really? No sunglasses your whole life? Now that I think about it, I guess I can't remember ever seeing you in a beshaded state. For some reason, I always picture the driver of a black jeep wearing a pair of dark shades. I guess I've been wrong before...

Can you share the url for your new research site? The one from the Times article? I need it!

Cadaver Ball? There's such a thing? Really???

Gizabeth Shyder said...

www.howcast.com was the how to video site - I found it again by googling how to have sex in a car. Haven't watched that video yet. The site looks cool though - instructional videos on how to do just about anything. At the time, I found better sunglass info on a different site, but the how to article got me going.

There is a Cadaver Ball. We celebrate when Gross Anatomy is over. There is also a Fungus Ball after microbiology second year. I once did an autopsy on a cadaver with a Fungus Ball (they are intrapulmonary and caused by aspergillus).

christie said...

An autopsy? How often do you do those? Can I go to work with you some day? I ran for (and won) County Coroner at Girls' State just so I could visit the morgue. Unfortunately, I was then nominated for(and won) a senate seat, so I had to visit the boring state capitol instead. Your work appeals to my ghoulish tendencies!

Gizabeth Shyder said...

I did around 100 in my training, including my stint at the Crime Lab, but the autopsy was dying (hee hee) during my tenure. Last I heard, resident couldn't even get to the 50 required by the American Board of Pathology so they were thinking about lowering the numbers.

I have done one autopsy in my 2 plus years here. But I have lots of memories!! I'll have to work harder on my blog to appeal to your ghoulish tendencies. And I don't really know the people in the morgue here (have been there once to borrow old tools for a cow eye school dissection), but I do have connections, and you would love the gross room.

ts said...

i remember in residency you never wore sunglasses...i'm so glad that you broke down! i really don't know how you survived in the south without them!

Gizabeth Shyder said...

Between residency and having kids, I don't think I ever NEEDED sunglasses during residency.